Involving Children in Placemaking

Involving children in shaping their cities and neighbourhoods is a longstanding issue in planning practice. There are many reasons why children should have a greater stake in shaping the cities they live in – foremost being that they’re going to be the ones that have to live with the changes.

In this project, Sean, Rob and Clara designed an engagement process to involve children in a live urban design project called ‘Streets for People’ in Newcastle. Through blending digital and analogue methods, their engagement involved translating urban design proposals developed by Newcastle City Council and local adult residents to enable children to contribute their ideas to the project.

In their paper, they set out the three stages of their engagement. The first of these involved situated explorations and evidence gathering through digitally supported neighbourhood walks. The second of these involved issue mapping and peer-to-peer discussions, facilitated through an online engagement platform called ‘Make Place’. This open-source platform, developed by Rob Anderson in Open Lab, helps support online discussion on place-based matters. The project concluded with a “Town Hall event”, where children, residents and the Council engaged in dialogue around the children’s ideas and their possible contribution to the neighbourhood.

The paper, recently published at HCI’s leading conference CHI 2018 in Montréal, reports on their insights. In this paper, they discuss how their activities facilitated issue advocacy and supported children’s problem solving and enquiry. They also highlight the tensions that surface around the agency of children within political processes and reflect on the challenges of working in this space – such as the questions posed by scaling up this work.

The lead author Sean is currently undertaking his PhD within Open Lab. He is set to start fieldwork this summer, which will involve working with a Newcastle primary school to involve them in a structured process of sensory placemaking.

For more information on this project, the paper can be downloaded here, or get in touch with Sean at: s.peacock@newcastle.ac.uk


Author: Sean Peacock

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